2011 Census

Hon. Jim Munson: That must be an interesting cabinet meeting where the Prime Minister asks the question: All those who are in favour of the way I think say “yea.” He can achieve consensus that way. As he said this summer, “I make the rules.”

Honourable senators, the Liberal Party of Canada in the other place tabled a motion calling on the government to reinstate the long-form census and introduce legislative amendments to the Statistics Act in order to remove the provision for imprisonment that my honourable friends keep talking about. Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry, has been citing this provision as the reason for eliminating the long-form census. He even misled Canadians, and the leader knows it, by suggesting that the Liberal Party is willing to force, coerce and use jail time and fines in support of its use. The leader knows this is untrue.

The question for the leader is: Shall we expect her government’s support for the amendment of the Statistics Act in order to remove the provision for imprisonment? We are looking for compromises here. We are looking to keep the long-form census and maintain it.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I must address the honourable senator’s comments about the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a great leader and a consensus builder. He is unlike the leader for whom you worked. When someone protested against him, he had a complete meltdown and strangled the poor devil in front of everyone. We need no lessons from Senator Munson about who is the more reputable and consensus-building leader.

Having said that, I understand today there is about to be a private member’s bill introduced, and we will deal with it like any other private member’s bill.

Senator Munson: We will let history judge who is the best prime minister of the country.

Can the leader name one person who was thrown into jail for not filling out the long census form? I want to have the names — just names.

Senator LeBreton: That is not the issue, honourable senators. The issue is that there is the threat of fines and the threat of jail.

The issue is not who has or has not been thrown into jail. The issue is that thousands of Canadians, like me, are being harassed by some part-time person hired to harass people into filling out the long-form census. I am stubborn sometimes, and I decided I was not going to do it until I was so afraid that I would be thrown into jail that I finally filled it out.